A Modest Proposal for Ending Socialized Capitalism
by Robert Reich
Socialized capitalism of the sort the Fed and the Treasury are now practicing, consisting of private gains and public losses, is untenable. On the other hand, it's also true that giant Wall Street investments banks as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are too big to fail. How to reconcile these conflicting principles?
Here's a modest proposal: When taxpayers insure a giant entity against loss -- as we now are with Freddie, Fannie, and Wall Street investment banks -- those entities must agree that:
(1) for the duration of the bailout, their top executives cannot receive total annual compensation higher than that received by the President of the United States, and
(2) the government gets five percent of their current valuation as shares of stock (roughly representing the benefit to their shareholders of the federal insurance) -- so that if and when the entities become profitable again, taxpayers are compensated for the risk they've taken on.